Alex Callinicos

Marxism loses a passionate champion

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Alex Callinicos looks back with warm memories, not only at the life of Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died last month, but on her early identification of, and critique of, 'Post Marxism' and her critical contribution to the development of the controversial analysis of 'Political Marxism'.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died in January at the age of 73, was one of the outstanding Marxist intellectuals of the past generation. She combined a rigorous commitment to theoretical clarity with a profound political passion. These qualities were very evident in the intervention that first brought her to broader attention, The Retreat from Class, first published in 1986.

Exploring Capital

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The current crisis of capitalism has coincided with a renewed interest in Marx's Capital. Socialist Review spoke to Alex Callinicos about his forthcoming book examining Marx's understanding of capitalism.


There's been a revival of interest and debate in Marx's Capital. Why do you think this is and why did you want to intervene in these debates with your new book?

The main reason is because of the radicalisation and resistance to neoliberalism that we've seen since the 1990s. Initially there were critiques of neoliberalism and capitalism on very diverse intellectual bases.

Bernard Behrman (1931-2013)

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Alex Callinicos pays tribute to a lifelong and powerful fighter for justice and socialism.

I vividly remember first meeting Bernard Behrman, who died in August at the age of 81. It was in the mid-1970s. If you were interested in the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, London was a fascinating place. It seemed to be full of exiles who had had to flee their country because of the ferocious repression that crushed the great struggles of the 1950s and early 1960s.

What sort of party do we need?

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In our ongoing series of debates on the role of Leninism today, Alex Callinicos replies to Ian Birchall's contribution in last month's Review. He returns to the fundamentals of Leninist organisation and presents a different account of the political arguments of the 1980s

There has been a shift in the focus of anti-capitalist debate. A decade ago, in the immediate wake of Seattle, Genoa, and Florence, in a climate of popular revolt against capitalism and war, a major question was: party or movement? In other words, were various forms of localised organisation sufficient for what Michael Hardt and Toni Negri call the "multitude" of those oppressed by capital to break the power of the ruling class?

Is Leninism finished?

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Do revolutionary parties, like the Socialist Workers Party, that draw on the method of organising developed by Lenin and the Bolsheviks still fit in the twenty first century? Alex Callinicos challenges the critics and argues that Leninism remains indispensable

The demise of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and of the political tradition that it seeks to embody have been widely proclaimed on the British left in recent weeks. Thus the columnist Owen Jones has announced that "the era of the SWP and its kind is over." Is he right?

Commonwealth

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Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Harvard University Press, £25.95

One of the landmark events in the rise of a new anti-capitalist movement ten years ago was the appearance of Michael Hardt and Toni Negri's book Empire. A remarkable bestseller for a long book written in fairly esoteric philosophical language, Empire sought to situate resistance to neoliberalism within the framework of the Marxist critique of capitalism and imperialism.

Labour collapse, BNP victories - political meltdown

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The economic and political crises have undermined the legitimacy of mainstream politics, argues Alex Callinicos. As Labour's support crashes can the left offer answers?

Crises aren't made of whole cloth. They have multiple causes and are explosive precisely because they represent the coming together of the major contradictions in society.

Thus the political meltdown in Britain isn't just about a massive popular revulsion against what the media call the "political class". Its intensity arises from the way in which it has coincided with the global economic and financial crisis.

System failure: Economic turmoil and endless war

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As the worst economic crisis since the 1929 crash rips through the world's markets, Alex Callinicos analyses the factors driving ever greater political instabilities across the globe

The world took a big step into even greater economic and geopolitical instability in the summer and early autumn of 2008. The credit crunch that started when the financial markets froze up in August 2007 shows every sign of becoming a global economic crisis. And the drive by the US to shore up its position as the hegemonic capitalist state has precipitated a potentially very dangerous confrontation with Moscow after the brief war between Russia and Georgia in August. Never has there been a greater need for a powerful anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist left.

Alternatives to Neo-liberalism

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Advocates of the free market constantly repeat the refrain that 'there is no alternative'. Alex Callinicos believes that for the movement to be able to answer this claim, it needs to reassert the viability of democratic planning.

The tide of revolt against neo-liberalism continues to rise. In Europe this is most evident in France. Within the space of barely a year the neo-liberal pensée unique (sole ideology) suffered two stunning defeats - first the victory of the left No in the referendum on the European Constitution, then the social insurrection against the CPE law aimed at limiting the rights of young workers.

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